Being in the closet is an experience almost anyone within the LGBTQ+ community has experienced. Some have friends and family that take awhile to accept them whereas others quickly feel relieved to have finally shared it. Here I would like to talk to you about my own experience as a closeted bisexual with an immigrant family.
The first time I realised I might be attracted to woman was when I was 12. It was the single most terrifying epiphany of my life. At first, I wasn’t even able to accept myself knowing the consequences my sexuality may have on my relationship with my parents. After a year of tears and questioning, at 13 I was finally able to not just come out to myself but to my friends who were the most accepting group of people you could possibly meet. Funnily enough, they all turned out to be gay too so I guess even then my gaydar was pretty strong. With this newfound confidence I decided to fake naivete and ask my mum about what on earth a ‘gay’ was. Being raised somewhere significantly more conservative than Britain, a look of horror framed her face. The entire time we spoke she seemed to be quivering at the sheer thought of her own child being ‘a gay’! In addition to the quivering were her harsh words that cut right through any hope I might have had; ‘If I ever found you to be gay, I would disown you.’ Albeit the most painful sentence ever said to me, at least I knew where I stood.
Now, a few years later I have adjusted to my situation and will even make the occasional secret gay joke around her. My mum considers herself liberal despite everything she said to me and I do not feel I can even blame her for this considering the environment she was raised in; I still love my mum.
I know that I am not the only one living in fear of even stepping out of the closet, therefore let me give some advice to those who are reading this: do not let yourself be pressured into coming out. Occasionally, I will feel a sense of shame for the caution I take into keeping my sexual orientation hidden, however, those who make you feel lesser do not understand how severe the consequences may be for you. Once you are financially independent and have a home, then and only then is it safe for you to come out. I am so sorry that we are forced into this situation but there is nothing else we can do.
One thing that has truly helped me adjust is my supportive friend group. I understand that this isn’t available to everyone, however, gays are like magnets. Trust me, even when you’re not looking for them they are right there - it’s amazing. More realistically, there are many websites such as Trevor space which are free and safe communities for LGBTQ+ youth to meet other people like them. It’s important to have a space where you can just be you and obsess over all of the attractive gay icons or just be surrounded in the warmth of the gay.
Another point I would like to make, for the aforementioned reasons, please do not out your friends. You have no idea of the situation they may be in and even if you know they have the most accepting family in the world, it is their decision to come out. As someone within the LGBTQ+ community they will be more aware of the low-level homophobia in the area and how easily this information can pass to the wrong person.
Leading back to my experience in the closet with my mum, I would like to clarify that she is still one of the most, loving, caring and passionate people I know. I just wish she could open her mind and her eyes enough to accept me. Sometimes it feels as if I’m holding my breath around her and I just want to know that she would still love me if she knew me. While it can be difficult to live with this, I’m holding out. I know I can make it and so will you.
Teenagers With Experience is an organisation created to provide teenagers worldwide with an online platform to share their own experiences to be able to help, inform and educate others on a variety of different topics. We aim to provide a safe space to all young people. You can contact us via email, social media or our contact form found on our home page.